The Jayhawks return home for one last time in 2017.
By the grace of Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, Kansas avoided their third three-game losing streak in the Bill Self era on Saturday night, as they escaped Lincoln with a 73-72 win over Nebraska. Now, the Jayhawks return home one last time in 2017 to take on another team from the Cornhusker State — Omaha. For the lack of a better phrase, this is the last “cupcake” on KU’s schedule, as they will finish off the non-conference schedule at Stanford.
About Omaha: The Mavericks come in with a 3-10 record, with just two of those wins coming against Division I opponents. They do have something in common with the Jayhawks, as they have also lost to Washington this season. Omaha is led by Wichita, Kan. native Zach Jackson, who leads the team in scoring at 17.5 PPG. The Mavericks undoubtedly come into the matchup overmatched, but nevertheless they’ll be looking to shock the world on Monday night.
Game Info and Notes:
- Monday, December 18th, 2017 at 6:00 pm CT
- Allen Fieldhouse, Lawrence, Kan.
- ESPN2 or WatchESPN App
- This is the first meeting ever between the Jayhawks and Mavericks
- KU edged former conference foe Nebraska, 73-72, on Dec. 16. The win was Nebraska’s first home loss of the season.
- Junior G Lagerald Vick leads Kansas in scoring at 17.7 points per game, which is third in the Big 12. Senior G Devonte’ Graham is sixth in the conference at 17.0 ppg, while senior G Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk is ninth at 15.6 ppg. Kansas is the only league school with three players ranked in the top 10 in scoring.
- Vick is the only player in the Big 12 that ranks in the top 10 in scoring and rebounding
- Azubuike scored 26 points and nabbed 10 boards in KU’s win over Nebraska
- Azubuike leads the NCAA in FG%, shooting 78.0% from the field
- After Azubuike’s 26-point effort at Nebraska, Kansas has seen four different players score 26 points or more in a game this season. That also includes Devonte’ Graham, Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and Lagerald Vick.
- KU is trying to avoid it’s first three-loss December since the 1998-99 season
Mavericks to Watch
Zach Jackson – 6’5″ junior, guard
Jackson leads the team in scoring at 17.5 PPG. Over his last five games he’s pouring in 19.6 PPG, including a 28-point performance in a losing effort to Washington. Jackson can score in a variety of ways, as he can beat with you the jump shot or driving to the rim. 48% of his shots are coming at the rim the season, but he’s also shooting 43% from beyond the arc. He’s an extremely efficient scorer and he can also rebound, grabbing down 5.6 boards per game, which is second on the team. I’d expect him to garner KU’s best defender in Vick.
Daniel Norl – 6’3″ senior, guard
If the Mavericks have a second scoring option it is Norl. He’s second on the team in scoring at 12.5 PPG, but over the last five games he’s been held to single-digits in three of them. He can definitely be limited if KU can put the clamps down on him.
KJ Robinson – 6’0″ sophomore, guard
Robinson runs the point for Omaha, leading the team at 3.8 assists per game. He also chips in scoring 10.6 PPG. He is a pretty effective outside shooter, converting on 41% of his three-pointers. Robinson posted a season-high 25 points on 9-15 shooting in a one-point loss to Tennessee Tech last month.
Kansas 90 – Omaha 68
While Kansas still has their problems to iron out, this is a game they should win pretty handily. Omaha is not a good team defensively, as they rank 345th in the country giving up 87.5 PPG. They also don’t defend the three-point line either. Opponents are converting on 35% of three-point shots this season — something that doesn’t bode well when going up against the Jayhawks.
This should be a game should serve as a confidence booster for the Jayhawks. It’d be great to see Malik Newman hit some shots early to get rolling, as he has been struggling of late. Also expect Sam Cunliffe to see extended minutes. He only got about three against Nebraska, but because of the way that game was going he didn’t see more. Look for Azubuike to have another big game. This is a great matchup for him. Omaha doesn’t have anyone on the roster that stacks up with him size-wise. This should be an easy win and help KU gain some momentum before they finish out the non-conference slate on Thursday against Stanford.